When God feels a million miles away

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

I mentioned in the last blog post about the most painful of sessions with my life coach.  I’ve continued to look back on April and wonder – what the heck was that and how did I get there?  So glad that month is over.

I genuinely think I was dealing with a situational depression of sorts.  I know a couple of the factors that played in – parenting being one of the biggies for sure.  And I’m also more than surprised that instead of clinging to God – I started to pull away from Him (why this takes me by surprise every time, I’m not sure!).  Pulling away from God did not help matters one bit.  In fact, it made things worse.

My daily alone time to read some of God’s truth gave way to hitting snooze on my alarm three to four times.  My desire to stay connected to God throughout the day with a skip in my heart gave way to wondering where He was and why He wanted to make my life so hard.

The gap started to widen.

It reminded me of the downward spiritual spiral I experienced just three years into my healing journey.

I wanted a break from recovery.

What I didn’t realize was that recovery and God were closely linked.  We had just moved to Denver and I was struggling to connect with other believers.  My heart started to slowly distance from God.  And before I knew it – I started wondering why would God allow the pain I had endured in my marriage.  That little break from recovery turned into a full-fledged spiritual crisis that lasted a good three years.

So back to last month – I knew deep down that the one thing I DID NOT want to happen was for my relationship with God to suffer.  And yet – how could I be true and real in the midst of my difficult season?  Could I even say I was struggling spiritually?

In some ways – I felt like that wasn’t an option.  “I mean come on now, I thought, people are counting on me.  I’ve got to be strong!  I’ve got to persevere.  And even if I need to fake it – I better do so.”

Stop the press – this is completely antithetical to what I teach and preach and emulate in my day to day.

What was I thinking?!

Someone wise proceeded to tell me – just because I’m questioning God and in a season of distrust with Him doesn’t disqualify me from helping others!  So to even think I needed to fake my relationship with God – no way.

At about this time – someone mentioned feeling distant from God in one of my groups and it opened up the door for me to say – “Me too”.  The heavy weight started to lift.  It wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just her – there were several of us.

I realized – although for some of us on this journey – our faith is what keeps us hemmed in – for others of us – there is a real spiritual crisis that we find ourselves walking through.

The latter can be down right scary.

Note to self – this is a critical part of the process if you find yourself here.  To have the space to question God.  To say things like – I don’t understand God’s timing.  I don’t understand His ways.  I don’t think He hears me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure He is a million miles away.

It’s hard stuff to say.  And hard stuff to hear.  Especially when there are no answers in the moment that can offer much reassurance.

I’ve noticed for myself that feeling and being heard can sometimes be the best medicine.  Not necessarily an answer but rather someone simply saying – “I hear you and you’re not crazy.  It makes perfect sense.  Me too.”

So if you’re finding yourself strong-arming God and questioning His goodness (for instance, you might be reading this and asking – what goodness?!) – I want you to know you are safe here.  You are not alone.  This is incredibly common for women walking this journey of betrayal.  I’d love to hear more about what you are struggling with.  I might not have the answers but I can tell you I get it.  I’ve been there.  And surprisingly (or not!), I’ll be there again.

10 thoughts on “When God feels a million miles away

  1. Jamie

    June 1, 2018  |  02:38 pm

    Shelley, I am so here right now! Questioning God, questioning my sanity, questioning when I will ever have a day that I feel slightly normal again. Oh, how I wish that I could take a “day off” of memories, and questions and feelings! Thank you as always, for making sure all us out here, know that we are not alone. Oh, how that helps!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 1, 2018  |  03:06 pm

      You are SO not alone – so many women in my groups go through this questioning – and I do to at times! Grateful to hear from you. xo

  2. Kelli Kennedy

    June 1, 2018  |  05:48 pm

    Zing! You nailed it. Thanks for your honesty!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 1, 2018  |  10:15 pm

      We’ve all been there! Thanks for being brave and telling me – “it’s okay”! xo

  3. caroline

    June 2, 2018  |  10:01 am

    Isn’t is strange how we do that pulling away thing? Like a drowning person fighting off their rescuer, we flail wildly at the hands that are holding us.

    I feel this “distance from God” quite frequently, ever since I was a teenager struggling with bulimia I’d say. One day I came across this often quoted verse in its larger context of James chapter 4:
    “… Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you…”


    This was not the picture I had. I saw Him leaving me, fleeing the area suddenly or slipping away quietly while I wasn’t looking (as my husband was apt to do!). It reality it was usually me, slowly turning my gaze from the One who knows all things. More and more movement away, finally turning so completely that He was no longer in my line of sight at all: WHERE ARE YOU GOD?!?!

    Right. Behind. You.

    Waiting to catch me as I fall. Again and again. I will tell you I have noticed a pattern, after each dark night of the soul, as I come back into His embrace I find there was purpose in my suffering and my uncertainty. Just as you found, there are usually others feeling a similar estrangement too and yet unable to reach out themselves. God uses our suffering. He speaks to us through it, and He speaks to others through us. He makes a way. He wastes nothing

    Funny, I wrote this just yesterday morning, before I read your new post. https://restoringgodsdaughters.ning.com/forum/one-thousand-years-of-supplication

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 2, 2018  |  02:52 pm

      Caroline – your words, as always, are so powerful. Grateful you added the link to your post. I’m going to head over and read it right now and I encourage others to do the same thing! xo – Shelley

  4. muchalone

    June 10, 2018  |  03:02 pm

    I remember about 6 years ago, when I came to the realization that my struggle with they way my husband treats me does not change what/who God has called me to do/be…and that there are times when God’s plan is not ‘practical’ from the standpoint of what I’m already struggling with. And I remember a teacher calling me an idiot because I took on what God had called me to do…and I felt SO alone…and SO tired…and yet there was an underlying contentment…
    And I still feel SO alone…and SO tired…and we found a different church, so I don’t get told I’m an idiot now–which helps to feed that sense of contentment and spur me on to continue in the struggle. Still, I think I have too many days when I want to quit…and I can’t because I am in the middle of this life thing that just keeps spinning chaos, so I just take a deep breath, whisper a prayer and do the next thing that has to be done.
    Thanks for this honest post that reminds me to run for the goal.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 13, 2018  |  07:34 am

      Thank you, muchalone, for your brutal honesty – I know there are so many that can relate to you. Yes – keep taking those deep breaths and keep running toward the goal. xo – Shelley

  5. Amber

    July 17, 2018  |  01:25 pm

    The hardest part for me was that the betrayal, in my eyes, went on for so long and God allowed it. I sometimes feel angry, although I know deep down I have no right ot be angry at God, that he allowed it to go on behind my back for so long. I say, God, Why? Why didn’t you show me sooner? Why did you let it continue for so long? Who am I to question the God of this earth? All his ways are just and right….But I do. I know he had his reasons and I pray that one day he will reveal them to me.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      July 19, 2018  |  01:05 pm

      Hi Amber! I hear you and have felt that way so many times – angry with God and yet also with the knowledge that He knows what is best. Your comments remind me of the book of Habbakuk – it’s a quick read and he’s a prophet that is so concerned with the injustice he sees around him. But as he questions God – he actually grows closer to Him. That is my hope for you, for me, for all of us! xo

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